I was reading a fascinating thread in the Blog + Biz BFFs Facebook group the other day (such a fun and useful group!) about the problems inherent in selling when you have an online business—specifically, how poorly done so many webinars and e-courses there are.
There were about 100 comments in this particular thread, so as you can imagine, the conversation covered quite a lot of things! And one of the things that people started talking about was their frustration around how some online business owners essentially make money off of other people by TEACHING them how to make money (without having made money online BEFORE that). That last piece, without having made money online before that, is the particular problem—and, as one person said, it’s head-spinning.
At any rate, this fascinating discussion got me to thinking about how this IS a major problem in the online business community… BUT there’s also another problem: there’s an assumption that MOST people are using this sleazy tactic of making money just by teaching how to make money.
And it’s not true! Unfortunately, while there are a lot of sleazy people on the Internet, there are also a lot of really AMAZING business coaches who actually know what they’re talking about and provide incredibly valuable information.
It’s just frustratingly tough to sift through it and sort the genuine ones from the crappy ones.
With that in mind, today I wanted to break down my own income and share with you WHERE my income is coming from these days.
For those of you who don’t know me, now would be a good time to give you a quick background as to why I’m blogging about this at all right now—I am a freelance coach, which means that I teach other new freelancers how to start and grow their own successful, profitable freelance businesses. I have also been a freelance writer, editor, and social media manager for the past 8 years.
Spoiler alert: I still make the majority of my income through freelancing… NOT through teaching other new freelancers how to start their own businesses.
Although the majority of my time is spent on building up my coaching business, I still actually earn the most through my freelancing work… yet I haven’t MARKETED myself as a freelancer in months.
You guys. THIS is why I teach you how to be a successful and profitable freelancer.
I don’t teach about this topic so I can make a quick buck (honestly, if I just wanted to make money, I would have made much more in a lot less time if I had just stuck with only doing freelance work rather than creating coaching programs on it).
I teach how to be a successful freelancer because I genuinely believe in this business model: when done right, freelancing really WORKS for building a successful business.
So, getting back to breaking down my income:
Because today’s article was inspired by that Facebook thread about how people make money online by teaching people how to make money (which isn’t QUITE what I do as a freelance coach, but it sort of falls into the same category), I want to show you what percentage of my income has come from various parts of my business since my very first month of launching my first e-course this past spring…
- April 2016: 35% event media relations, 30% social media management, 10% e-courses, 10% sponsored blog posts, 10% transcribing university lectures, 5% editing
- May 2016: 55% sponsored blog posts, 30% social media management, 10% editing, 5% e-courses
- June 2016: 85% social media management, 15% e-courses
- July 2016: 45% social media management, 35% sponsored blog posts, 20% e-courses
- August 2016: 60% social media management, 30% writing, 10% transcribing
- September 2016: 60% social media management, 25% e-courses, 10% writing, 5% book sales
- October 2016: 55% social media management, 20% e-courses, 15% sponsored blog posts, 10% writing
A few notes on the above:
- These percentages aren’t EXACT, but they’re pretty accurate (I rounded here and there because I didn’t want to break it down in terms of 56.8% and all of that. I adore all of you, but that just feels like way too much unnecessary work ;)).
- I tracked my e-course revenue based on when students purchased courses, NOT when I received it (or else it would show as my income from courses being delayed a month).
- I tracked everything else here in terms of when I received payment for the work.
- I do not do ANY marketing for my freelance business (and I also let go of most of my clients and have turned down work since starting to teach freelancers in the spring), but I have consistently had freelance work all year long without any difficulty.
- My sponsored blog posts have all been articles on lifestyle topics… NOT on topics related to business.
- I am not a fancy six-figure business owner. That is super cool and awesome if you are, but (at this stage, anyway), that’s just not me. Frankly, I would be in a much better place financially if I had stuck with freelancing instead of teaching how to be a freelancer. Like most millennials, I make enough to cover the bills and live “comfortably snug,” as one friend so eloquently put it. I feel it’s necessary to clarify this because I don’t want to give you the false impression that, for example, the above 20%/month is the equivalent of making $2,000/month, or something like that (again—that’s fantastic if you consistently make $10,000/month! That’s just not where I’m at right now).
I hope that by sharing this with you today, it will give you some insight into two important things…
1) First, what the breakdown of a freelancer’s income can potentially look like. You’ll see that the work I do as a freelancer really varies! It keeps things interesting and it’s neat how flexible it can be from one month to the next.
2) Second, that I am not making piles of money by teaching you how to make money online. I instead make the majority of my income in the exact way that I TEACH how to make an income. Now, as I grow my coaching business, that will start to change… but I do think that it’s really important to note that it didn’t START with the teaching.
Every great business coach should already have a lot of experience under their belt with trying and testing what they teach for themselves, BEFORE they start teaching it. If someone is trying to sell you on some kind of system or strategy, check into their background. Do they have the real-world experience? What were they doing before they started teaching this? That’s an important first consideration before you hire a business coach!